Pacers President of Basketball Operations and NBA legend Larry Bird has been able to call Indiana great Reggie Miller both an opponent and player for his team. As of Monday, Larry can just call Miller a fellow peer among the greats of the game.
"I'm very happy for him," said Bird about Miller. "I don't think it matters if you are on the first, second, third, or fourth ballot. If you are good enough to get in there, you deserve it. Obviously I have seen Reggie play ball since he got into the league, and then I was fortunate enough to coach him. I was able to see some of the heroics that he brought to our team, his work ethic, and his professionalism. It was a great ride."
Miller had the unique distinction of playing all 18 of his NBA seasons with the Pacers, scoring a franchise-record 25,279 points while also hitting 2,560 three-point field goal attempts-which was an NBA record when he retired. He also dished out 4,140 assists during his time with the Blue and Gold.
"I think just one time he as thinking about checking our New York, but he doesn't really belong there," said Bird with a smirk.
"He came back and that was very fortunate for Indiana because he was a stable here in the community for a long time. He did well and I am very happy for him, because I have played with a lot of guys that were fortunate to get into the Hall of Fame. And Chris Mullin got in, now Reggie, so it is very nice to see all that."
Bird coached Miller and the Pacers for three seasons from 1997-98 through the 1999-00 season, ending his run on the bench with a trip to the NBA Finals. Larry Legend assumed at that point Miller had done enough throughout his career to make it to the hall of fame one day, even if he had never won a championship with the team.
"It's unfortunate for Reggie because I think people just look at some of the shots he hit," said Bird.
"You have to take that into account, but his durability, ability to shoot the long-range ball, his demeanor, the way that he competed, and it just didn't happen over night. This happened over a course of a career. Mullins was the same way, and I don't think it really matters if you win a championship or not, that is just the icing on the cake. It's the fact that you can compete at the highest levels, and they showed that they can."
Along with Miller, ABA legend Mel Daniels was selected to join the hall as well on Monday afternoon. Daniels won three championships in four seasons from 1970-1973, and was also a two-time league MVP in 1969 and 1971.
"It's really too bad that a lot of younger people don't get to see Mel Daniels, Roger Brown, and those guys play," said Bird.
"They were very good. It was ABA, and I'm glad that they are looking a little bit harder at the ABA players because I was fortunate to play with some of them. I know how good they were, and just seeing Mel with then numbers, and how he played, and the ABA Pacers had a very good basketball team. But when they made the trade, that changed their whole world."
The Pacers traded for the 1968 Rookie of the Year before his sophomore season with the Minnesota Muskies, and Daniels went on to spend six seasons with the Pacers. Daniels averaged 18.4 points per game along with 14.9 rebounds.